Far From Red, White, And Blue

The two weeks we spent in Japan weren’t like a typical skateboard visit to Tokyo. In fact, we only spent two hours in Tokyo. Hiroshi, our friend and tour guide, took us on a different excursion away from the urban chaos. He drove us through green, lush landscapes, and mountain villages where we stayed in traditional Japanese hotels. These hotels were very different from Western ones¿we slept on the floor in shared rooms separated by sliding paper doors. There were no showers¿we bathed in shower-rooms beneath the hotel where we were given small towels and small stools to sit on and wash. After rinsing off, we sat in a hot tub tapped from an underground spring. This treatment makes you feel as good as new.

When it came time to eat, I realized how far I was from red, white, and blue. We ate mostly at Japanese restaurants¿the menus consisted of rice, fish, sushi, soup, tofu, and salad. This simple diet began to make more sense to me than the common American diet of fried food. We skated with lightness even in the heat of summer.

Cultural contrasts can make traveling a humbling experience. The time I spent in Japan gave me a different perspective on how human relations can be when we have a common respect for each other. The Japanese people aren’t just out for themselves¿being part of a family and sharing are important to them. The kids at the demo waited patiently if we weren’t on time, they nodded with appreciation for anything given to them, and never asked for more. The skaters we traveled with brought us closer to an experience of Japan’s true nature.

It is often hard to capture a memory on paper¿parts of the trip are imbedded in my mind, and neither photos nor words can explain the feeling of the moment. No one had a camera or bothered to reach for one. We all just enjoyed it for what it was.

We will have those moments in our hearts forever. I would like to thank Hiroshi and the Japanese Supernaut riders.